Protecting water quality and habitat on forestland, strong rules regulating forest practices, collaboration between watershed councils and private landowners, and land-use planning are all key to Oregon's strategy for protecting fish habitats: report
April 7, 2014
– The Oregon Forest Resources Institute’s newest special report offers an introduction to the state’s unique approach to protecting fish habitat in forest streams.
The 16-page publication, titled “The Oregon Way: Forests and Fish – Protecting Aquatic Habitat in Oregon’s Forests,” features an introduction by Gov. John Kitzhaber. “Oregon’s tiered approach to habitat conservation, while unique, may not be perfect. However, it is a good reflection of the people of this state: adaptive, responsive, inclusive, innovative – and committed to protecting our rich natural resources, for Oregonians and fish alike.”
OFRI Executive Director Paul Barnum says he hopes the publication will help inform the public debate as the recovery of listed fish species continues to be in the news.
“Private forest management is facing environmental litigation, potential regulatory changes and a public that continues to be skeptical about modern forest practices,” Barnum says. “With this special report, we’ve produced a highly readable introduction to this complex topic, to help people understand the issue and how it’s evolved over the past 40 years.”
The publication explains the three prongs of Oregon’s effort to protect habitat:
1. Land-use planning laws discourage housing and commercial development from sprawling into forestland; water quality and habitat on forestland, public or private, are generally far better than in developed areas.
2. Strong rules regulate forest practices, and these rules continually evolve as scientific research improves understanding of fish, habitat and the effects of forest management.
3. The Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds encourages local watershed councils and private landowners to collaborate to voluntarily improve and restore habitat.
“Ongoing science continues to be directed at understanding forest management’s effects on fish and streams, with studies going back to the 1960s,” Barnum says. “Results of current studies are quite encouraging. They indicate we’re doing a good job of balancing the benefits of a competitive wood-products industry while protecting Oregon’s native salmon, steelhead and cutthroat. We still have work to do, but I think Oregon is currently doing it as well or better than anyone.”
OFRI worked with the Watersheds Research Cooperative, the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, the Oregon Department of Forestry, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the Governor’s Natural Resources Office, Oregon State University and private landowners to produce the report.
The publication and an eight-minute companion video are available for viewing, downloading or ordering, free of charge, at OregonForests.org.